Dodgers: Pedro Baez Should Not be Booed, Walking the Wrong Way

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - APRIL 26: Pitcher Pedro Baez
SAN FRANCISCO, CA - APRIL 26: Pitcher Pedro Baez /

The Dodgers are in a horrendous downhill slide, losing 14 of their last 15 games. Dodger fans everywhere are growing frustrated and letting it be heard. Pedro Baez was booed Friday night for his poor performance during this stretch, but he doesn’t deserve to be. The whole team is underperforming and walks have a lot to do with it.

Talk about two sides of a coin. When people spoke of the Dodgers just two weeks ago, they wondered if this team will ever lose. Now, everyone is wondering when they will win again? Right now, nothing is clicking. When the hitting’s there, the pitching isn’t and visa versa. There’s a noticeable rift in rhythm between the players and the fans.

Everyone’s begging for an answer to this historic meltdown, and no one’s getting one. So, like many other lost souls, we take to blaming. Pedro Baez has been our scapegoat. The once dominant setup man to the best closer in the game has now become the source of nervous “oh no’s,” groans and boos. But should he be the target of all this negativity?

It’s no secret he’s struggled the last month or so. He’s just experienced the worst week of his life, surrendering a walk-off home run last Saturday, giving up four runs without retiring a batter on Monday and losing the next day’s game because he couldn’t find the strike zone. He’s been blamed for three games in one week, but how many games has he saved for the Dodgers without getting credit?

Like Joe Blanton last year, Dave Roberts has used Baez as not only the bridge to Kenley Jansen but in tight situations against the opposition’s best hitters.

Baez is second on the team in innings when the game is late and close, he leads the bullpen in innings with runners in scoring position and facing the opposition’s two, three, four, and five hitters. Despite all these high leverage situations, he’s owned a 1.79 ERA until September. Even with a dismal start to September, he still owns an excellent 2.53 ERA.

Blanton was used a lot last season and evidently showed fatigue when he struggled in the playoffs and received a lot of blame. Baez has also been used a lot this season and is showing signs of fatigue. He may not be used as he was earlier going forward, but a scoreless frame here or there will help build his confidence back up. Hopefully, he finds a way to bounce back and save himself for October because the Dodgers won’t go far without him.

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As for the booing. Dodger fans should be ashamed. We are not Philadelphia; we are better than that. Baez is one of the reasons why the Dodgers were so dominant through the summer so booing him for a losing streak that was seemingly bound to happen is unacceptable.

One of the biggest changes seen during this losing stretch is the walks going the other way. What separated the Dodgers from the rest of baseball was their ability to take walks, and not give them up. They led the majors in those two categories. Now the Cleveland Indians are proud owners of the title for least walks given up, and they are fast approaching the Dodgers in walks taken.

In September, Dodger pitching has given up 43 walks, the most in baseball. Cleveland, on the other hand, has given up the least and taken the most. They have also won 17 in a row.

It seems this is the key to success. If the Dodgers want to get back to their usual selves, they cannot hit the panic button. That means though they aren’t scoring runs and everyone is hitting what they throw, they can’t stray away from the strike zone.

Next: Dodgers: Four Players Who Could End the Skid

The Dodgers don’t panic, and neither should the fans. Booing won’t do any good because adding pressure to a team that’s already trying everything to win will only push them closer to pressing the panic button. Once it gets closer to October, and the Dodgers have their regulars back in, they can establish their rhythm again.